Diagnosing PC Hardware Faults

Here's a check list for diagnosing unknown hardware faults such as sudden freezing, etc:

  1. Check for obvious visual clues outside and inside the box:
  2. If the problem seems to be hard disk (HD) related:
  3. If the problem seems to be BIOS related (the BIOS can usually be entered from system power up by pressing and holding down a particular key, often displayed on the screen at the appropriate time to press it, usually <Delete> or one of the <F?> 'function' keys):
  4. Run MemTest to test system memory  -  Linux & some recent versions of Windows sometimes include it as a 'safe' mode or 'Recovery Console' boot option, otherwise download the floppy image, make up the floppy, and boot from it:  http://www.memtest86.com/download.html
  5. Can you boot from, say, a Windows or Linux installation CD, and/or run a Linux Live CD?  If so, perhaps the problem is Operating System (OS) or software rather than hardware related.
  6. If your OS is Windows, are there any clues in the System Event Log?
  7. Install any hardware monitor / diagnostics program that may have come with the PC or motherboard.  Choose settings that log as many potential problems as possible, and examine the log after each crash.  However, be aware that they tend to be unreliable.  Most do not run as a service, which they should, so won't run, say, while the PC is at the logon screen.  Even more absurd, at least some Gigabyte programs hibernate when minimised to the system tray!  Therefore, keep the program window open at all times until you've nailed the problem.
  8. If still no solution, and you have spares, try swapping out hardware, one piece at a time.